I'm sure a lot of you knew it was coming. The steady stream of emails asking "When is Slashdot gonna IPO" and messages from VCs pretty well proves that you guys knew it as well as I did. Well the cost and overhead of running Slashdot independently finally began to overwhelm us. After much deliberation and careful analysis, we're excited to announce that we've been acquired by Andover.net. Read more to learn what this means.
Why did you do this?
Slashdot keeps growing. The overhead and costs associated with running this beast has become astronomical. Hemos and I work marathon weeks, and there still isn't enough time to get everything done. There are always banner ads needing selling, stories needing posting, perl needing hacking, and readers with questions needing answering. Besides that, our single channel ISDN connection is awfully saturated, and the "Business" work of running this website is beginning to be nearly as much work as the "Website" part of the site.
We had 2 options: get cash from some investors and hire a staff, or or find a company that we felt understood what we wanted to accomplish here, and use their money to hire help.
Hiring our own staff would mean hiring suits and marketing people. We decided that simply being acquried would allow someone else to worry about the suits and marketroids- we would simply benefit from their existing business infrastructure, and we could concentrate on what we already know how to do: Run a website.
What do we intend to do? Well for starters we'll be able to pay several of the guys who have been volunteering their time for so long. Plus, we'll be able to hire people to help sell banner ads, and the administer the servers, and maybe to debug code. Basically, a support staff so that Hemos and I can simplify our lives, and Slashdot won't have to depend on us 24/7. And we have new things that we want to do on Slashdot, so offloading tasks from me will us to focus on other things that we want to do around here.
We'll start doing things like content mirroring. We'll have more servers, and hopefully soon servers will pop up on each coast. And we'll be able to have experts help pull it all together. The end result will be a faster, more stable Slashdot.
We talked to several companies: Some that you've heard of, and some that you haven't. We were looking for a company that would guarantee us complete and total creative control, but provide us the financial resources necessary to expand Slashdot in the way we consider best "right". And whoever became involved, they had to be "Outside" the linux/open source world to a certain degree: we didn't want anyone to think that a company might buy us simply to gain an advantage in the story select.
Andover is good for that- they aren't a "Linux" company - they run Linux, and they read Slashdot, but they don't sell a distribution, or Linux boxes, or anything related to Linux . In fact, we've only mentioned them on Slashdot a couple of times in the past.
Best of all- they're smart guys. They understand what Slashdot is, and they respect that they can't change it without destroying what it is. So they are happy to guarantee (it's even in the contract!) that Hemos and I would retain full control of the site, while taking advantage of their business resources to take care of that icky part of running this monster. To guarantee that, I've also been appointed to the Andover.Net board. (I'm still not sure if I'm supposed to wear a tie)
What is Andover
A Media Company. An internet company. They run websites. Sorta like Earthweb or Internet.com. All of their existing sites are done essentially in-house. They have several sharp hacks over there and I'm looking forward to working with them. They also have top notch guys-with-ties, and a real keen grasp of where things are going in this business.
ConclusionI couldn't be more excited about this. I finally will have the ability to expand Slashdot the way I want to. I'll have the ability to pay people that have been volunteering hundreds of hours of time to help. And I have complete control over Slashdot's future, without the financial burden that has been growing over the last year. This couldn't be better for Slashdot, and I hope I haven't offended anywone to bad. We fundamentally will not change anything, we'll just have a better infrastructure to do what we've always done.
The final cool part of this is that I get to say thanks to you guys. Most of what we're getting is a piece of Andover.Net. And after I pay off my student loans and Hemos pays off his credit cards, we want to make sizable donations to some causes that we think are important. This seems like the best way for us to give back to the community that made us successful.
- The Free Software Foundation - How can we not give back to them for making so much cool stuff possible.
- Debian - I love Debian. I just want to make sure that they keep going strong. Debian's success is critical to the future of Linux. Besides, I wanna make sure that my apt-get command gets the newest version of everything cool.
- Project Gutenberg - Keeping books online and making them available to the world is important.
- The Macatawa Area Community Network - They give free network access to our hometown. They were the original home of Slashdot- and they let us keep it there for several months even when we were saturating their T1 every afternoon.
- Hope College - We both graduated and we want to set up a scholarship or something there. I want it to be for a "Hot Chick Going into CompSci" but we'll have to see if they'll let me do that...
- Foresight Institute - So hemos is obsessed with nanotech. He wants to give them money in exchange for a campbell's soup can of nanites He's wierd, but hey.
We're happy about this, but I know not all of you will be. To those of you who think I'm wrong, I'm sorry. I really believe that this will allow me to make Slashdot into something even better then it is today, without sacrificing what it already is. Its been a crazy ride so far, and now its only going to get crazier.
Update: 06/29 02:12 by CT : Just FWIW, this has no effect on the Slash source code release. It will still be released whenever I have time to work on it. In fact, hopefully now since I'll have some help around here with the sysadmin stuff, I'll be able to focus on it some more...